According to the People’s Daily the consensus is that Ma Baoguo is NOT a genuine martial arts ‘Master’ - but rather a highly effective ‘Front Man’ deliberately employing comedic routines – to ‘sell’ (at extortionate prices) made-up (and seemingly ‘random’) movements falsely presented as ‘Ancient’ elements of traditional Chinese martial arts! As numerous unseen individuals and business entities supported Ma Baoguo – he was compelled twice (during 2017 and 2020) to put his health and well-being on the line by ‘sparring’ (full contact) with much younger men despite already being in his mid to late 60s! As can be imagined, since becoming a media sensation the biography of Ma Baoguo is well-known in China! Despite the ‘Official Line’ emanating from within China (and echoed outside of China) stating that Ma Baoguo is ‘fake’, nevertheless, he does possess a martial background (which varies in degrees of legitimacy from ‘possible’ to ‘spurious’) – but which can be substantiated through a mixture of verifiable ‘Personal’ and ‘Public’ Records. This Record maybe summarised as follows:
a) The Ma Family Martial Arts Style is known as the ‘Shandong Ma Family Martial art’ (山东马家功夫 - Shan Dong Ma Jia Gong Fu) and has been passed down as follows:
i) ‘Ma Zhongyi’ (马忠义) taught his son ‘Ma Defeng’ (马德峰).
ii) ‘Ma Defeng’ (马德峰) taught son - Ma Baoguo - from around 7-years of age (during 1959).
iii) ‘Ma Baoguo’ (马保国) has taught his son - ‘Ma Xiaoyang’ (马晓阳).
b) Ma Baoguo served for six-years in a PLA (Shandong) Garrison – stationed between 1970-1976 (where it is likely that he trained in militarised ‘Longfist’ [長拳 - Chang Quan]).
c) Between 1982-1984 - Ma Baoguo (who was aged between 30-32 years old at this time) attended Xi'an University. Here, Ma Baoguo trained under Master Shang Ji (尚济) - a teacher who is universally recognised as a legitimate Xingyiquan (形意拳) practitioner.
d) During 1987, Ma Baoguo met one ‘Guo Daxia’ (郭大侠) of ‘Wudang’ (武当) - a self-proclaimed lineage successor and ‘Great Hero’ of the ‘Wudang’ and ‘Emei’ (峨眉) martial traditions! This person is also known as ‘Guo Shanghai’ (郭升海). Ma Baoguo studied with this teacher – and later became a ‘Disciple’.
e) During the summer of 1997, Ma Baoguo met Wang Changhai (王长海) - the second-generation descendant of Hunyuan (混元) Taiji (太极). Wang Changhai taught martial arts in the local park, and Ma Baoguo is recorded as participating in just ‘their’ (public) Push-Hands Classes. Although Ma Baoguo has claimed that Wang Changhai was his ‘Master’ and transmitted his Style to him - Ma Baoguo is not included amongst the ‘Official’ thirty-nine ‘Inheriting’ Disciples of the (Official) Hunyuan Taiji genealogy.
He was born during 1952 in the Linyi (临沂) area of Northeast China’s Shandong province – but was raised further South - in Central China’s Henan province. His father was ‘Ma Defeng’ (马德峰) - who served in the Eighth Route Army, whilst his grandfather was ‘Ma Zhongyi’ (马忠义) - a bona fide martial artist. The Family Style passed down from ‘Ma Zhongyi’ (马忠义) to his son ‘Ma Defeng’ (马德峰) - was known as ‘Shandong Ma Family Martial art’ (山东马家功夫 - Shan Dong Ma Jia Gong Fu). Ma Baoguo started learning this martial art from his father at around 7-years of age (during 1959). At the end of 1968 (at 16-years old) - Ma Baoguo enrolled in Neixiang County Senior High School (Neixiang No. 1 High School) in Henan Province. During December 1970 (at 18-years old), Ma Baoguo, (who had successfully graduated from high school), joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and served in the Shandong Long Island Fortress for six-years (until 1976 – when he was 23-years old). Before the Spring Festival in 1976 (when he was 24-years old), Ma Baoguo married his fiancée - Chen Shumin (陈淑敏) - a good women who worked hard in the countryside. During March 1976, Ma Baoguo was demobilized from the PLA after six-years of Service - returned to Neixiang County. In May, he was assigned to Nanyang City as a worker. Despite the intrigue that developed during his later life, Ma Baoguo did have a youth immersed within martial arts and military study.
A typical narrative suggests that in 2001, Ma Baoguo’s son – Ma Xiaoyang – enrolled to study for an academic Degree (Master of Business Administration) in the UK. Ma Baoguo was required to borrow a very large amount of money to finance this venture, and this created a large family debt. Ma Baoguo travelled to the UK in 2002 to assist his son through teaching Taijiquan to the British people – and it is here (and not in China) - where Ma Baoguo began to find fame and admiration! Between 2002-2007 he attracted thousands of British students all willing to pay for his instruction! This is how Ma Baoguo became very rich and managed to pay-off all his family debt! During February 2004, he founded the "British Hunyuan Taijiquan Association"! This was his first organisation which fed-back into his native China! On the strength of this achievement, during the Summer of 2013, Ma Baoguo, (together with his son - Ma Xiaoyang - and his fellow disciples) co-founded the ‘Hunyuan Xingyi Taiji Gate’ (浑元形意太极门 - Hun Yuan Xing Yi Tai Ji Men) - whilst still claiming a ‘hidden’ transmission from Wang Changhai (王长海) - an assertion that has not yet been convincingly ‘denied’ by the established followers of Wang Changhai. Ma Baoguo describes this organisation as an ‘Advanced’ Internal Chinese Martial Arts School. During the Autumn of 2015, Ma Baoguo assisted his son - Ma Xiaoyang - in founding the ‘Shanghai Hunyuan Martial Arts Temple’ (上海浑元国术馆 - Shang Hai Hun Yuan Guo Shu Guan) - serving as the ‘Honorary’ curator.
On March 12, 2015, the then 64-year-old Ma Baoguo was in the UK once again on a short visit. During this time, he ‘hired’ a local MMA fighter turned-actor – ‘Peter Irving’ - for an hour of work. This involved set-piece photography and video scenes designed to highlight the Style of martial arts Ma Baoguo had developed! There was no fighting or conflict. Later, however, the footage was released on the internet claiming that Ma Baoguo had ‘challenged’ and ‘defeated’ an MMA European Champion! (There were also further spurious claims of another British fighter being defeated - supposedly later the same day).
In 2017, the 65-year-old Ma Baoguo appeared in the public eye (in China) for the first time, He achieved this feat by agreeing to ‘fight’ the 37-year-old MMA fighter - Xu Xiaodong (徐晓冬) in Shanghai on June 26th! However, as the fight was about to start, the Police arrived and stated the venue was not suitable for such an event and that everyone was to peacefully leave! Many accused Xu Xiaodong of only agreeing to fight ‘old’ men and never anyone who could genuinely challenge him. The interest surrounding this intended event attracted thousands of people to the cause of Ma Baoguo and assisted in the boosting of his business interests! Meanwhile, Ma Baoguo implied that he had ‘won’ the 2017 fight by using ‘hidden’ spiritual powers that manipulated physical matter and took away Xu Xiaodong’s ability to fight – whilst rumours surfaced that in fact Ma Baoguo had ordered his nephew (‘Ma Bin’ - 马斌) to telephone the Police and ‘Report’ the venue for safety failings (the intercepted text is believed to have read ‘Quick - tell the Police before he kills me’)! Ma Baoguo denied this allegation – stating that he did not have a nephew named “Ma Bin”!
This all fed into in Ma Baoguo’s clash with the 49-year-old ‘Wang Qingmin’ (王庆民) - a ‘folk martial artist’ (in fact, this former PLA soldier is an expert in Xingyiquan) - which occurred on May 17th, 2020, in the Zibo area of Shandong (although neither participant received any payment for taking part). This fight lasted no longer than 30 seconds and involved a 68-year-old Ma Baoguo being knocked-down three times by series of straight right punches landed by Wang Qingmin! Throughout the contest Wang Qingmin was ‘orthodox’ (with his left-hand and left-foot always forward) - whilst Ma Baoguo fought exclusively in ‘south-paw’ - with his right-hand and right-foot forward! This left Ma Baoguo continuously ‘open’ to Wang Qingmin’s straight-right' - which Ma Baoguo was unable to defend against! The first punch knocked Ma Baoguo’s head around four to six inches ‘backward’ from the vertical position and probably did all the damage – irreparably jarring the brain (in fact, these blows were two straight punches landed in quick succession). Momentum was added to Wang Qingmin’s blows by Ma Baoguo moving forward and slightly to his left (running on to the punches). ft It is remarkable that this 68-year-old man - ‘fake’ or not - managed to get straight to his feet to continue (with no ‘Ten’ count being administered at any point during the contest – although this might have been due to Ma Baoguo getting-up too quickly). In an attempt to avoid this straight-right – Ma Baoguo attempted to move backwards and to his right.
However, as he was unable to move quickly enough, Wang Qingmin stepped into the empty space created (covering more ground) – landing a type of ‘sling-shotting’ (single) straight-right that was partially blocked by Ma Baoguo’s raised left-arm – but which still landed to the side of Ma Baoguo’s face. This set of combined movements effectively ‘knocked’ Ma Baoguo head and pelvic girdle quicker to his right than his legs could carry him (fatally altering his centre of balance) – and he fell once again (although I suspect his legs were still not working properly following the first knock-down). Yet again Ma Baoguo got to his feet – although by now he was looking very much like the old man he was. As there was nothing coming back from Ma Baoguo – Wang Qingmin had been allowed to establish the habit of ‘walking forward’ with virtually no guard – and this is exactly what he kept on doing. Ma Baoguo, on the other hand, continued to circle to his right – and it is at this point in the fight that the only kicks were thrown. As Ma Baoguo is ‘double-weighted’ (a habit seen in all beginners which causes a cognitive ‘delay’ between ‘preparing’ the body to throw a kick – and ‘actually’ throwing the kick) - he launches a front (heel) kick off his right-lag – but he does this by momentarily placing his left-leg forward (presumably in an attempt to gain momentum), a desperate move which missed its target (again, even taking into account his poor technique, I suspect his legs were not working properly following the accumulative effects of the knockdowns).
Interestingly, Wang Qingmin appeared to block this attack by ‘kicking’ Ma Baoguo’s attacking kick with a right front (heel) kick of his own (thrown off his reverse-leg). Wang Qingmin then momentarily lands in a ‘southpaw’ stance (the only time he would do this during the entire contest) - simultaneously throwing a straight-right jab (which landed flush to Ma Baoguo’s chin). As Wang Qingmin is uncomfortable fighting in ‘southpaw’ - he immediately switched to his usual ‘orthodox’ stance – throwing yet another (reverse) straight-right punch which also landed flush on Mao Baoguo’s chin! Ma Baoguo absorbs the first ‘jab’ apparently unscathed – but as soon as the second punch lands (the two punches are about one-second apart) - his stunned and traumatised brain ‘switches-off’ all voluntary control of his body and he falls unconscious to the ground. Official and Medical personnel rush to the aid of the now supine Ma Baoguo – concerned that he may be seriously hurt. He remained unconscious for two-minutes.
Chinese Language Sources:
Translator’s Note: As a forensic translator of (written) Chinese language texts into contemporary (British) English – I am trained to place the modern (Mainland Chinese) Pinyin in brackets next to the Chinese ideograms together with a ‘word for word’ (succinct) translation in English. These ‘Goju Ryu’ texts are a little different as they involve a Chinese language text which is itself a ‘translation’ from the original Japanese! This being the case, unless the Okinawan individuals involved are deliberately writing in the Chinese language (as many sometimes opt to do) - nothing is added for the general reader once the Chinese ideograms are deciphered using Japanese pronunciation - if the Chinese pronunciation is also added! This being the case, I have used a slightly different approach involving ‘selective’ further elaboration as a means to retain the ‘flow’ of the extract in English.
Furthermore, as I am becoming more familiar with the primary Japanese and Chinese language sources surrounding this subject, I am now appreciating how different historical accounts vary quite radically despite the events under question not happening that long ago! For instance, in other accounts Miyagi Chojun develops the Geksai Katas in 1937 to coincide with the official start of the Japanese war in China – whilst in this text he develops these Katas in 1940 – for no apparent reason! In another account, Miyagi Chojun learns the basis of ‘Tensho’ during his 1936 visit to Shanghai – whilst in this account he learns this during his visit to Fuzhou in 1917! Most other accounts state that Miyagi Chojun visited Fuzhou in 1916 – whilst this account states that martial artists from Fuzhou visited Miyagi Chojun in Okinawa to ‘mourn’ the passing of Higaonna Kanryo in 1916 – which sounds much more plausible to me.
I am left considering how many of these differences in historical interpretation boil down to faulty or incorrect translations from Japanese and Chinese language sources into English – brought about by a general lack of understanding concerning these primary languages. Once errors of interpretation are made and then published in the West they circle (like Haley’s Comet) – with readers being unable to break the cycle by checking the primary sources for accuracy! This might well be complicated by misconstrued Western sources being re-translated back into the Chinese and Japanese languages – thus ‘legitimising’ these errors as if they are true and original! We must carefully pick through all the available data and slowly but surely establish the most likely timeline and realistic historical narrative! ACW (1.10.2022)
During 1933-1934 Miyagi Chojun (宫城长顺) worked within the ‘Dai Nippon Butoku Kai’ (大日本武徳会) - a ‘Nationalist’ martial arts association closely linked with the Imperial Japanese Government. This organisation was abolished in 1946 by the Occupying Allied Forces following the defeat of Japan at the end of 1945. Between 1895-1945, however, this organisation was the over-arching Japanese Governmental Department responsible for ensuring that all martial arts training throughout the Japanese Empire conformed to a certain technical standard of ‘effectiveness’ and ‘aggression’. People living in Okinawa had no choice but to conform to its dictates. Around 1934-1935 – Miyagi Chojun was appointed the ‘President’ of the Okinawan Branch of this organisation for Life (although this post was abolished in 1946) and awarded the title of ‘錬士’ (Ren Shi) or ‘Refined Warrior’. He used his status to popularise his style of Goju Ryu and managed to get this style registered with the Japanese Government – a move that helped other Karate-Do styles to also become registered and accepted in Japan.
During 1934, Miyagi Chojun wrote a text entitled ‘Ryukyu Fist Law Tang Hand Way Historical Developmental Overview’ (琉球拳法唐手道沿革概要 - Liu Qiu Quan Fa Tang Shou Dao Yan Ge Gai Yao). This might translate into the Japanese language as a book referring to ‘Ryukyu Kempo Kara-Te Do – Historical Overview’. Miyagi Chojun uses the ‘Chinese-Hand’ ideograms of ‘唐手’ (Tang Shou) to express the term ‘Karate-Do’ - instead of the post-1901 ‘Empty-Hand’ (空手 - Kong Shou) ideograms. During 1935 - Miyagi Chojun was granted the ‘Sports Person of Merit’ Award issued by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. He presented for the first-time in public – the information recorded in his 1934 ‘Tang Shou’ text - during a lecture he gave in Osaka during 1936. The ‘Dai Nippon Butoku Kai’ awarded Miyai Chojun the title of ‘教士’ (Jiao Shi) or ‘Doctrinal Warrior’ during 1937 – Miyagi Chojun was one of the first person to be granted this title – alongside other Karate-Do practitioners such as ‘Konishi Yasuhiro’ (小西康裕) and ‘Ueshima Sannosuke’ (上鳩三之助), all of whom were empowered by the Japanese Government to arrange and hold Karate-Do competitions. This development ‘normalised’ the practice of Karate-Do in Japan and elevated Karate-Do onto the world stage of sport. This was the due to many years of hard-work carried-out by Chojun Miyagi, Mabuni Kenwa (摩文仁賢和), Otsuka Hironori (大塚博紀) and Funakoshi Gichin (船越義珍), etc, amongst many others.
As well as propagating Goju Ryu Karate-Do in Mainland Japan – Miyagi Chojun also taught Karate-Do in Hawaii (USA) between 1934-1935! This came about through an invitation via the ‘Ocean State Times’ (洋國時報社) issued by ‘金城珍荣’ (Jin Cheng Zhen Rong)! Whilst visiting Hawaii – Miyagi Chojun encountered for the first time the numerous pieces of bodybuilding (and body-conditioning) equipment used by the local Hawaiian people during their indigenous martial arts training! So impressed was he that he decided to incorporate one of these devices into his teaching of Goju Ryu Karate-Do in Okinawa! This was the ‘金剛圈’ (Jin Gang Quan) or ‘Metal Strength Elongated Ring’ ('Kongoken'). After returning from Hawaii in 1935, Miyagi Chojun then travelled to Japan to teach once again at Ritsumeikan University. At that time, those training in Goju Ryu Karate-Do at Ritsumeikan University under Miyagi Chojun included ‘Yamaguchi Gichen’ (山口刚玄) and ‘Cao Ningzhi’ (曹宁柱).
During 1936, Miyagi Chojun travelled with Aniya Seisho (安仁屋正昌) to Shanghai in Mainland China. During this visit, Miyagi Chojun visited numerous (and varied) martial arts schools in China. This included a visit to the well-known ‘Jing Wu Athletic Association’ (精武体育会 - Jing Wu Ti Yu Hui) situated in Shanghai. Due to his status, Miyagi Chojun gained an audience with the Grand Master of the Jing Wu Athletic Association - ‘Zhao Lianhe’ (赵连和)! Here, both Masters participated in a positive exchange of views!
During 1937 - ‘Yabu Kentsu’ (屋部宪通) passed away. In April 1938 – Miyagi Chojun accepted the post of ‘Karate-Do’ Instructor at the Okinawa Prefectural Normal School – replacing ‘Yabu Kentsu’.
During 1940 – Miyagi Chojun developed the two ‘Katas’ named ‘Gekisai Dai Ichi’ (击碎第一 ) and ‘Gekisai Dai Ni’ (击碎第二).
Chinese Language Source:
大武德会是第二世界大战之前负责全日本武道教育管理的机构，而1933年~1934年间 宫城长顺先生等人争取到的不光是让日本社会正式认可空手道，同时也是开通了让各空手道流派能正式传入日本的途径。作为空手道的代表人物 同期间(1933年~1934年间) 宫城长顺先生被大日本武德会任命冲绳县支部的负责人，一直到二战结束大日本武德会终止为止。
1937年宫城长顺先生接受了大日本武德会颁发的“教士”资格，成为第一批被日本武道界认可持有教士资格的空手道家（同批的有小西康裕先生，上鳩三之助先生）。 大日本武德会颁发给宫城长顺先生（和其他空手道家）的各种荣誉与头衔不但代表了宫城长顺先生（与其他空手道家）在空手道界的地位，同时也是空手道在日本武道界里逐渐被推广开并且被认可的迹象。这是宫城长顺先生，摩文仁賢和先生，大塚博 紀所先生，富名腰義珍先生等，多个空手道先驱者多年努力后的成果。
宫城长顺先生除了在日本推广刚柔流空手道以外，在1934 年~1935年 宫城长顺先生受报社“洋國時報社”金城珍荣氏的邀请去了美国夏威夷推广空手道。在夏威夷他看到了当地人练武的器具，决定将它纳入剛柔流的系统内。这器具就是补助运动中的的金刚圈。1935年从夏威夷回来后，宮城長順先生又到了日本的立命館大学授课，而当时立命館大学的空手道社員包括了山口刚玄与曹宁柱。
1937年 屋部宪通先生去世后，在1938年 4月 宮城長順先生接受了沖縄県師範学校空手師範一职接替了屋部宪通先生。1940年宫城长顺先生又先后创了击碎第一和击碎第二。 作者：猫爷习 https://www.bilibili.com/read/cv1652712/ 出处：bilibili
In many English language texts the story is told that all the historical evidence collected by Higaonna Kanryo and Miyagi Chojun was destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa (April 1st - June 22nd 1945) - however, a slightly different story is told in this Chinese language text:
[空手] 吳賢貴 略傳[Empty-handed] A brief biography of Wu Xiangui
From what I can gather, this is a blog of a Taiwanese IOGKF practitioner who visited Okinawa and carried field research whilst training with the Goju Ryu instructors living on the island (I believe the Miyagi family). He has gathered photographs of 'Wu Xiangui' but this person still has no proper Chinese name (the characters used '吳賢貴' are Japanese phonetics)! However, at one point in the story relating the adventures of Miyagi Chojun and Wu Xiangui travelling to and from China - the author suddenly says this:
'It's a pity that the Chinese boxing books that were scheduled to be translated into Japanese were all burned in the US air raid on October 10, 1944.'
This devastating event was a full five months prior to the catastrophic Battle of Okinawa! Of course, there may have been more than one collection of historical data and this statement might only be referring to the gongfu manuals (common in China) that Miyagi Chojun was presented with by the Head Teachers working at the Jing Wu Athletic Association!
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.